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In NetHack, twoweaponing is the act of wielding two weapons simultaneously, and is only available to certain roles. Twoweaponing deals significantly more damage in exchange for overall accuracy, skill investment, and time spent training the ability.

Beginning two-weapon combat

To begin two-weapon combat, you must have your main-hand weapon wielded and your off-hand weapon in your secondary weapon slot. The easiest way to achieve this is usually to wield w your off-hand weapon, use x to swap your weapons, and then wield w your main-hand weapon. Finally, use shift + x to bring your intended off-hand weapon into your off-hand and start dual-wielding. If successful, you have a DEX/20 chance of not using a turn.[1]

Restrictions and prerequisites

Two weapon combat
Max Role

If you are not polymorphed, your role must be one that can reach at least Basic in the two weapon combat skill. If you are polymorphed, it must be into a form that can fight with two weapons.

The two items you try to wield must both be weapons or weapon-tools, and they must both be one-handed. You cannot wield two weapons while wearing a shield.

If your secondary weapon is cursed or you have greasy hands, it will slip to the floor when you try to dual-wield. If your secondary weapon becomes cursed while you are dual-wielding it, it will slip from your hand instead of being welded to it.

If you wield an artifact weapon as a secondary weapon and attempt to twoweapon, you will not be able to engage in two-weapon combat in vanilla NetHack. A message will appear saying “Your <artifact weapon> resists being held second to another weapon!”

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

You can no longer dual-wield launchers (bows, crossbows, slings), ammo (arrows, crossbow bolts) or missiles (darts, shuriken, boomerangs).

Two-weapon combat while polymorphed

You can twoweapon while polymorphed only if your polymorphed form has two weapon attacks, regardless of role restrictions.[2] Most monsters with this property are not valid polymorphable forms. The complete list of polymorphable monsters that can twoweapon is:

Fighting with two weapons

To-hit bonus
Skill level One weapon Two weapons
Unskilled −4 −9
Basic 0 −7
Skilled +2 −5
Expert +3 −3
Damage bonus
Skill level One weapon Two weapons
Unskilled −2 −3
Basic 0 −1
Skilled +1 0
Expert +2 +1

You will always attempt to hit with each weapon independently, starting with the primary weapon, then the secondary. You will not attempt to hit with the secondary weapon if the target is killed or knocked to another location by the primary weapon attack, or if the primary weapon is Stormbringer overriding the confirmation to attack peaceful or tame monsters.[3]

The skill level used by twoweapon is chosen from the lesser between your two weapon combat skill and your skill in the weapon used. While twoweaponing, only your twoweapon skill is trained, rather than the skills of your primary or secondary weapons.[4] Twoweaponing skill bonuses for both to-hit and damage differ from single-weaponing skill bonuses - see the article on skills for details.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

When both weapons hit, the strength damage bonus is reduced to 34 of its value.

Two weapon combat skill

Two weapon combat
Max Role

When fighting with two weapons, your effective two-weapon skill level for each hand is the lesser of your two-weapon combat skill level and the relevant weapon skill level.

The two-weapon combat skill is considered a weapon skill, in that it costs two skill slots to advance it from Basic to Skilled, and three more skill slots to advance to Expert.[5]

Only roles able to reach at least Basic can engage in two weapon combat.

Skill strategy

Because the two-weapon to-hit bonus and damage bonus calculations always use the lesser of the two-weapon combat skill level and the appropriate weapon skill level, there is no point raising your two-weapon skill higher than those of the weapons you actually intend to use. In particular, Rogues should not advance to Expert if they intend to use long swords or sabers, and Tourists should consider not advancing to Skilled if they intend to use long swords.

Similarly, there is little benefit in raising your weapon skills higher than your two-weapon skill if you intend to dual-wield. Knights and Valkyries can reach Expert in long swords, for example, but only Samurai can actually wield two of them at that skill level.

When wielding two weapons, to-hit calculations are only performed for the main-hand weapon. This means that off-hand weapon skill level is only used to determine the two-weapon bonus damage inflicted by your off-hand weapon. Raising your secondary weapon's skill level to Basic gives you +2 damage for one skill slot, but spending another two slots to reach Skilled's further +1 damage is often not worthwhile.


As a general rule, most roles capable of two-weapon combat should switch to it eventually. Only rogues benefit from wielding a single one-handed weapon, and even they often prefer dual-wielding over backstab damage. Unlike two-handed weapons, a cursed off-hand weapon will slip from your hand instead of being welded to it.

Choosing a secondary weapon

When fighting with two weapons, an obvious choice for the first weapon is your favorite artifact weapon. For the second weapon, popular choices include:

Weapon Class Damage (Small/Large) Comment
Silver saber
  • Expert: Archeologist
  • Skilled: Knight, Rogue, Tourist
  • Basic: Barbarian, Samurai, Valkyrie
  • 1d8+(1d20)
  • 1d8+(1d20)
Very useful for fighting demons in Gehennom
Silver spear
  • Expert: None
  • Skilled: Barbarian, Knight, Samurai, Valkyrie
  • Basic: Rogue, Tourist
  • 1d6+(1d20)
  • 1d8+(1d20)
Very useful for fighting demons in Gehennom
  • Expert: None
  • Skilled: Barbarian
  • Basic: Knight, Tourist, Valkyrie
  • 1d6+1
  • 3d4
High damage versus large monsters
  • Expert: Rogue
  • Skilled: Samurai, Tourist
  • Basic: Archeologist, Knight
  • 1d10
  • 1d10
Good damage versus small monsters, but hard to make and keep
(Long sword)
  • Expert: Knight, Samurai, Valkyrie
  • Skilled: Barbarian, Rogue
  • Basic: Tourist
  • 1d10
  • 1d12
High damage, and uses the long sword skill
Elven broadsword
  • Expert: None
  • Skilled: Barbarian, Rogue, Samurai, Knight, Valkyrie
  • Basic: Tourist
  • 1d6+1d4
  • 1d6+1
Easy to find and hits small monsters hard



For SLASH'EM players, the commands to activate the two-handed combat skill are #twoweapon or #2weapon. In SLASH'EM, artifacts do not refuse to be two weaponed in a secondary position, and two artifacts can be wielded at once (although, this forfeits the off-hand artifact's on-wield abilities). This introduces some interesting weapon combinations.

Only certain roles and certain races can fight two-handed. Of the game's many races, only humans, elves and dwarves can twoweapon. Annoyingly, other races might still see "two-handed combat" in their #enhance screen even though they cannot use it. Attempting to activate two-handed combat produces the message, "<Your race> <Your role> aren't able to use two weapons at once."[6][7]

SLASH'EM roles that can twoweapon, in addition to those in vanilla NetHack, are Flame Mage, Ice Mage, and Yeoman. All can reach Skilled proficiency. Duergars and bearded devils can also twoweapon.


In SporkHack, there are a number of significant changes to two-weapon fighting. First, Rangers and Cavemen can fight two-handed, albeit only at basic skill. Second, and more significantly, there are restrictions on what weapons can be wielded in the off hand, based on the player's twoweapon skill. At basic or unskilled, you can use daggers, knives, and other weapons that weigh 10 or less. At skilled, you can use maces, short swords, spears, and others weighing 20 or less, and at expert, long swords, broadswords, and sabers become available. Several weapons have had their weights adjusted to fit into this scheme.

Wielding a too-heavy weapon in your off hand leads to heavy to-hit penalties, on the order of −20. This is much more significant than it would be in vanilla NetHack since SporkHack has altered the to-hit mechanics and given late-game monsters better armor class.

This seriously alters weapon selection, especially for classes like Archaeologists and Barbarians. Particularly, Rogues and Samurai will now be the only roles likely to wield an off-hand silver saber, which was formerly among the strongest off-hand choices. To compensate somewhat, a few new weapons including the silver short sword have been added.


In dNetHack, all roles and races are capable of twoweaponing, as is any monster that has an offhand attack - this also applies to polymorph forms.

dNetHack incorporates off-hand weight restrictions similar to those of SporkHack, with a -1 to-hit penalty per each unit of weight over the limit (minimum -5, maximum -40) for overweight offhand weapons, and a -1 damage penalty per every 2 units of weight over the limit (maximum -10). Cavemen get a +1 size bonus for the purposes of offhand weight limits, as do characters that bind Ymir, and both of these bonuses stack. The exact weight limits used are shown in the table below:

dNetHack offhand weight limits
Skill level Medium (or smaller) Large Huge Huge+1 Huge+2 Gigantic Gigantic+1 Gigantic+2
Unskilled 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Basic 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
Skilled 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240
Expert 40 80 120 160 200 240 280 320
Master 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400
Grandmaster 60 120 180 240 300 360 420 480

The wind and fire wheels and stiletto heels are boots that can be used as paired weapons for twoweaponing: the same item is used for both attacks, which ignores the offhand weapon and any skill-based weight limits and uses the twoweapon skill for all other purposes.


In notdNetHack, in addition to all dNetHack changes, Treant species with a powerful build (Bluegum, Chestnut, Ginkgo, Locust, Magnolia, Oak, Redwood) get a +1 size bonus for the purposes of wielding offhand weapons. Bluegum Treants gain an additional +1 size bonus, for a total of +2 sizes. Redwood Treants gain an additional +2 bonus, for a total of +3 (gigantic). Dogwood Treants get a -1 penalty. This stacks with the Caveman and Ymir bonuses, making it possible to reach the gigantic+2 column of the above table without self-polymorph (albeit limited to unskilled). Unlike the Caveman and Ymir bonuses, it does not apply while polymorphed.


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